« EdellinenJatka »
and illustrated in your own experience. There are trials and tests of faith which come upon us, as it were, suddenly and unexpectedly; these, we conceive, are for most part, of a lesser kind. But when it is to be a deep trouble-a heavy conflict-protracted suffering, the compassion and the tenderness of our Father prompt Him to give us some previous indication of what is about to come to pass. He forewarns that He may forarm. And we shall find, with Israel, that in all these cases the trial of faith will be very severe. Our confidence will be tested to the very last degree. We shall want to be re-assured that the spot where we encamp was that identically chosen and pointed out by the Lord; and there will be, as it were (allow us the expression, for assuredly it will prove true in experience) a death-grip of the promise of succour and deliverance. Notwithstanding the plain and unmistakeable declaration of the Lord's providential care, and the very means which He would employ for the destruction of the Egyptians-namely, by hardening Pharaoh's heart that he should follow after them-yet we see how little that declaration availed when Israel was brought into the depth of its trial. How little had it to boast of its faith, or to ascribe deliverance to its own wisdom or prowess.
Beloved, is it not so now?
And we maintain that, in order to counteract our ever-constant inclination to ascribe deliverance to our forethought, or knowledge, or experience, or faith, the Lord oftentimes vouchsafes that deliverance when our wisdom, or experience, or faith, appear utterly to fail. It would be too bold and too presumptuous and too daring a thing then to boast of what we had to do with the matter. The mercy must, almost of necessity, be ascribed to the Lord, to whom alone all the merit were due.
Reader, do you comprehend us? If we mistake not, the apostle Peter knew something of this state of heart and mind, when, after his "toiling all the night, and taking nothing," the Lord said, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught;" and "when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes." Disgusted with himself, and with his own lack of simple, childlike confidence, Peter "falls down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Reader, again we ask, Do you understand this mystery of faith? do, you will bear witness that they are self-subduing, Christ-endearing, God-exalting moments.
Beloved, there is an argument which the Lord makes use of as being that of Pharaoh which, under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, will be suggestive of some sweet spiritual reflections. "Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel," says the Lord to Moses, "they are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in." Now this is a thought for the Lord's exercised children to carry with them into the new year. Such is the precise language of Satan and his emissaries now, in reference to many a dear child of God. He is "entangled in the land; the wilderness hath shut them in." He is in certain worldly difficulties; he is engrossed and entangled with the cares of this life; the concerns of the wilderness have shut him in; there is no way of escape. Ah, ah, so would we have it. "Where is thy God
The Lord was at no loss in the days of Israel; nor is He at any loss now. And very blessed is the consideration that that " entanglement in the land,” and that " wilderness shutting in," was of the Lord's appointment-by His express direction-and that special arrangement of matters by which He would display His vengeance upon his enemies, and His peculiar love to His people.
God forbid that we should be understood to imply, that straits and difficulties are to be courted-that a child of God is to rush headlessly into them. Nay. We have guarded against that unlawful construction of our language by the stress which we have laid upon the fact, that Israel's position before Pihahiroth was in express obedience to the Divine command. We stated, moreover, that this conviction would be a very necessary stay to Israel in their subsequent perplexity. But we would have the child of God know, that any express leading of the Lord into this or that path, does not imply that that path is to be one of sunshine, or unattended with difficulty. On the contrary, it is more than likely, that the more unquestionable the Lord's direction into a particular course, the more significant the trials and the perplexities attendant upon that course.
We can conceive of the deep depression and the extreme reluctance with which many will enter into 1856; and we can imagine with what diffidence, more especially the young disciple, will step over the threshold of this new year, to encounter, it may be, worldly pursuits with all its numberless and corroding cares. And yet, in spite of all, the language of our text is as forcible and as applicable to-day, as when first spoken, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward!"
Now there are two scriptures which we would compare with this expression,“ entangled in the land;" the one is that precious saying of our beloved Lord and master, in his memorable prayer, 17th of John, and 15th verse, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil;" and the advice of the Apostle (1 Cor. and 5th chapter) with regard to shunning certain company. He does not, as we conceive, mean to say that the Corinthians were to have no dealings with the characters whom he there particularizes" for then," says he, "must ye needs go out of the world," but ye are not to keep company-ye are not to receive into your heart and your affections-such and such as a brother." Ye must learn to define and to keep up the distinction between the common courtesies, or the every-day transactions of life, and the closer and more intimate claims of the Christian brotherhood.
Keeping this distinction steadily in view, and the caution at which we just now hinted, of not heedlessly rushing into trouble, we maintain that so far from earthly cares and worldly perplexities being a hinderance to a child of God, they become in the Lord's hands a "heavenly discipline." They tend to impress with the conviction that this is neither his rest nor his home; that he is but a passenger and a pilgrim; that that to which he aspires isbeyond! Here, like Noah's dove, he "finds no rest for the sole of his foot." He is "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ." These very trials and incumbrances are overruled to cause him to "set his affections on things above, and not on things on the earth;" "while he looks not on the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Did time and space permit, we might show, beloved, in what way earthly cares and afflictions thus operate; but we must forbear. Our more immediate object at present is to press the exhortation, "GO FORWARD!"
The history before us furnishes us with the most encouraging ground so to do. Nothing could have exceeded the jeopardy in which Israel was placed. Greater difficulties they could not possibly have encountered. It was quite true, that they were entangled in the land," and that "the wilderness had shut them in." There were impassible mountains on either hand, the Red sea before them, and the revengeful host of the Egyptians in their rear. And,
yet in this signal crisis, Moses, empowered from on high, exclaims," Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord; for the Egyptians which ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever."
Beloved, pause with us to admire one special mercy-and oh, it is so unspeakably blessed when personally realized. Moses stands now, not as at another time, in dread of his life, when the people were ready to stone him ; but in the most perfect calmness and composure. Humanly speaking, there was nought but destruction before both him and his people, and yet he exclaims," Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord." Observe, though the Lord had said he would be "honoured upon Pharaoh," he did not say how. We conceive that Moses was as much in the dark as to how the thing was to be accomplished as were the people of Israel themselves. To us this appears clear from the cry or pleading of Moses mentioned in the 15th verse. But, though the patriarch was in ignorance as to how the victory was to be achieved, he was in no doubt as to the fact.
Beloved, can you understand this? Have you known it in blessed and happy experience? Oh, how sweet it is. To rely upon a faithful God. To ply Him with the faith of his bestowment. To trust Him in the face of a thousand adverse circumstances. To feel just as sure of deliverance as though it were already vouchsafed. It is, assuredly, one of faith's sunny spots. It is so pure-so unmixed with flesh-so untainted with the accursed free-willism, that will be meddling wheresoever it can. And how the Lord always honours this faith. In what a simple, gentle, precious way it works. Just like the veriest ray that indicates the dawn of day; the scarcely perceptible transparency in the cloud after a storm; the merest gleam of sunshine, when the heavens have long been clothed in sackcloth: how onward and expansive the light, and the brightness, and the glory! So faith, thus given, and thus enabled to exercise itself upon its Divine Begetter, never, no never enthrals its possessor, nor disgraces its Author.
Say, ye pilgrims, have you not found it blessed when Faith has burst her bonds, and snapped her pinions, to soar on high, and sing the praises of the Great Deliverer, in anticipation of his glorious conquests? How sweet the moments when indulged to trust an unseen God. How sweet to sing His praise, and shout the victory ere a stone were slung, or an arrow pierced the enemy. And yet the battle not the least in doubt! The issue as determined as though of yesterday.
Reader, the remembrance of these heart-glowing facts makes it difficult to descend again from those glorious heights into which one seems for a season carried. One feels brought at such times within the very confines of the new Jerusalem, Jesus is so precious. His love-his faithfulness-his sovereignty -his power, so near and dear.
One's willing soul would stay,
In such a frame as this;
And sit and sing herself away,
Believing reader, perhaps you may linger on the threshold of the New Year, with a heart crushed with anguish; your very soul may seem as it were steeped in sorrow; your burdens may prospectively exceed all you have hitherto been called to bear; your enemies far outnumber those of previous years; your little strength now utterly exhausted; and your faith apparently about to resign the conflict. Yet withal our commission to-day is to say to you, "GO FORWARD!" This is to be your watchword, though a host encamp against you, and though ten thousand difficulties present themselves to your bewildered and affrighted view!
What! brought thus far in safety; and now surrender? How many a battle has been fought, and you invariably the conqueror! How wearied have you often been, since you left the City of Destruction, and started upon pilgrimage; but who strengthened, revived, encouraged you? How over. whelming have a thousand and a thousand trials appeared; and yet to the present moment you are upheld. How awful such and such temptations; do you not remember them? and yet with all delivered! When? by whom? and for what purpose? Oh, "thank God, and take courage." On pilgrimage some twenty, thirty, forty years, and now despair? Retreat? Resign? Nay, nay. "Go FORWARD!" is our Lord's command. "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
And can He have taught me to trust in his name,
And thus far have brought me to put me to shame ?
His love in time past forbids me to think,
He'll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
Confirms His good pleasure to bring me quite through.
Though in densest darkness, wherein you cannot possibly see your way; "GO FORWARD!" remembering that gracious word, "Is there any among you that feareth the Lord; that obeyeth the voice of his servant; that walketh in darkness, and hath no light; let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay himself upon his God."
Though called, perhaps to encounter some new and marvellous temptation; strange, trying, perfectly inexplicable; still, still we say, GO FORWARD!" reminding you of the Lord's own most tender and appropriate word, loved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." And again, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations."
Though sin within may strive with tenfold effort for the mastery, and it would seem as though all hell were set in deadly array against thee, "Go FORWARD!" Midst the din of battle, and when thou seemest driven on by internal as well as external foes to the very vortex of destruction and despair, direct if it be only a dying eye to thy Captain. That look will touch his heart, and with an eloquence that far outvies all human language, will remind Him of His promise, "When the enemy cometh in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him," and again, Sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace." Though feelingly you have "no strength shut up or left," "Go FORWARD!" remembering his word, " He will give power to the faint, and to them that have no might He will increase strength.'
Though your foes were never so many nor so mighty, "Go FORWARD!" mindful of his gracious promise, "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue rising in judgment against thee thou shalt condemn."
Though thou mayest be about to " go the way of all the earth," and Jordan may roll at thy very feet, "GO FORWARD!" pleading his word, “When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and though the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
Reader, "looking unto Jesus," we say unto thee, under any and under all circumstances, "FORWARD! GO FORWARD!"
Bonmahon, Co. Waterford..
THE THREE-FOLD ATTITUDE OF THE GREAT HEAD OF
It was for a like reason that the Israelite of old had his altar of burnt-offering, and his altar of incense. The former, to point to Jesus as the atonement. The latter, to Jesus as the Intercessor; and this one altar could not have done.
We now come to the inquiry, What is Jesus doing? How is He occupied for me in these several attitudes, of sitting, standing, and walking? We turn to the passages where these expressions occur, and we find, that every time that the Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of as sitting at the right hand of GOD, it is in immediate connexion with His finished and accepted work of redemption. In Mark xvi., where we read of a triumphant and manifested resurrection, that grand token and seal of sin being cancelled and abolished, the narrative closes with these words, " He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of GOD."
AT a time, like the present, when a long | of the wisdom and knowledge of God." and often-painful separation from those near and dear to each other is an event so common, that few indeed there are who are not familiar with those peculiar sensibilities which are called forth by such circumstances; few who do not know what it is to put the imagination to its utmost stretch, in order to bring the absent and beloved one in the most vivid manner before the mind's eye, and who have not eagerly sought such information as should tend to carry out this object. At such a time we would endeavour to draw a lesson from these our most familiar thoughts, and, for a moment, to put the question to ourselves, and to our Christian readers, Is there not one who ought to hold, nay, who does hold the most prominent place in our affections? and yet what idea have we formed of the attitude which He assumes at this moment? Shall we, who know what it is to claim the nearest affinity to Him, "whom, having not seen, we love;" who can say of Him, My Beloved is mine, and I am his;" My Maker is my Husband;" He is my "Brother born for adversity;" He is my "Friend, that sticketh closer than a brother;" shall we not long to view Him with the eye of faith as He now is, and as we shall see Him when we shall "behold his face in righteousness ?"
Well, then, we turn to that word which testifies of all things concerning this our Beloved, and we there find, that He is represented as assuming three of the attitudes or postures with which we are most familiar in common life-SIT
We are then led to consider, Why is He thus represented under these three aspects? We believe that it is in compassion to our infirmities that the Holy Ghost has been pleased to use these several expressions to open out to us something of the fulness which dwells in the Lord Jesus Christ. Something of "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Something of the "height, and depth, and length, and breadth of that love of Christ, which passeth knowledge," which would otherwise be unintelligible to us, so that we may be constrained to cry out, "Oh, the depth of the riches, both
Again, in the epistle to the Hebrews, we have those remarkable words, "When He had, by Himself, purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high " (Heb. i. 3). "This man, after He had offered one sacrifice of sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of GOD" (Heb. x. 12). Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (xii. 2). Do we not see then, in this attitude of our Jesus, our complete Redemption? As our sacrificial Priest, He had no more to do. Sin was put away;" He entered into His rest;" He sat down ;" and to us His conflicting, yet in Him His conquering people, He addresses these comforting words, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev. iii. 21).
Again, we are to view our great Head and Representative as standing at the right hand of God. It was thus that the martyr Stephen saw him as he looked up steadfastly into heaven (Acts vii. 55). And wherefore standing? Is it not that